Coach Ian Ferguson says certain Perth Glory players receive a raw deal from referees, just days after the team was accused of being overly physical.
Tough midfielder Jacob Burns received his third yellow card of the season for his role in a collision with Melbourne Heart’s Aziz Behich last week, which Ferguson felt was unwarranted.
The Glory captain is already edging closer to a mandatory one-game ban for the accumulation of yellow cards.
Asked if his players had been unfairly treated because of Glory’s reputation as a physical side, Ferguson said: “I think there’s one or two players that do.
“I’m not trying to get the boy Behich into trouble but you’ve all seen the tackle and I’ve seen it.
“I’m sitting on the bench and I see it and I see the boy going over the top, but that happens in football. It’s a contact sport.
“But what I got a bit annoyed about was the fact that Jacob got a booking for it.”
The clash with Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium on Sunday will be Glory’s first game at the venue and will be highlighted by the presence of Italy legend Alessandro Del Piero.
The former Juventus star has scored twice in his three games for the Sky Blues and presents a major goal scoring threat this weekend.
Ferguson joked Perth would “kick him off the park” in a bid to quell his influence this week, a reference to comments out of the Sydney camp this week regarding Glory’s perceived physical approach.
“Look, he’s obviously a player who’s going to need close attention,” Ferguson said.
“You can’t just give a player like Del Piero space and time on the ball (because) he’ll crucify you.”
Sydney coach Ian Crook, unsurprisingly, said facing Glory would hardly faze a World Cup winner like Del Piero.
"He is a world class player. He’s played against players all over the world that try different things against him,“ Crook said today.
“And he finds a way to do things. It’s going to be another challenge for him on the weekend.
“... He’s special.
“You’ve already seen in the three games he’s played for us in what he can offer our game here as a whole.
“I’m sure again on the weekend there’ll be something he does which excites the crowd.”
Crook praised Perth’s hard-nosed style but said they had also found a softer touch this year that had caught his eye.
“A lot of people have said to me that Perth are physical,” he said.
“And yes they are, but I think that’s being a little bit detrimental to them.
“Towards the end of last year and certainly what I’ve seen of them this year they’ve started to pass the ball around.
“(Liam) Miller’s a good player, an exceptionally good player.
“I’ve worked with Travis Dodd, the likes of them, and they’re good technically.
“Same with Jammer (Scott Jamieson). Yes they’re physical but they’ve got a real good balance to their whole side.”
Glory coach Ferguson faces a tough selection decision with defender Bas van den Brink available after overcoming the calf injury which kept him out against Melbourne Heart last week. However, striker Shane Smeltz is still out with a hamstring injury.
Sydney will likely line up with another makeshift back four, with key left-back Fabio (thigh) to be given until Saturday to prove his fitness while Ryan Griffiths (hamstring) and Pascal Bosschaart (back) have been ruled out.